I really, really tried. Honestly.
I tuned-in to an entire Chris Rosebrough session, almost losing 90 precious minutes of my life, were it not for a graphic illustration project I had on the go as I listened.
The session was on Discerning Discerners, featuring the pirate and two of his crew, including Steve Kozar, who had written a disparaging piece aimed at those who take issue with their group snarkiness.
Going after the girls again
Another time, I even tried to listen to a session Chris had going which attempted to criticise Vickie Simpson, a travelling minister from Australia who was invited by a pastor to speak at a large church in San Diego. This turned out to be a hatchet job of radio criticism by Chris.
Listen, I can’t understand why Chris simply doesn’t get what the speaker is saying when the message is so very simple to understand. It wasn’t complicated. It was plain as day to me once I’d blocked out Chris’ constantly irritating interruptions. Vickie actually delivered a very helpful message based on Bible passages about preparing a place for God to move, starting from 2 Kings 3.
Maybe Chris is so set on being cynical before he even begins his analysis, that he can’t actually hear what is being said. I don’t think Vickie claims to be a great orator, but she is an effective communicator.
As Paul said, “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Chris is very unjust in the means he uses to critique speakers. He seems to have an intense need to stop the message every fifteen seconds or so so lay down a scoff or some scorn to indicate to the listener his utter disgust at what he is hearing but not understanding.
The first mistake Chris makes is to call Vickie a pastor from the church she was preaching in. She isn’t a pastor. She has a travelling ministry on invitation. I think she’d probably call herself a minister who has a prophetic call. As far as I’m aware she doesn’t call herself a prophet or an evangelist.
But she has a gift that reaches people and draws them nearer to God in faith, which is why she is invited to serve people with the Word of God.
Digging his own ditch
Then Chris drops a huge clanger when he says the passage Vickie is reading doesn’t contain the main objective of her message which is to encourage people to dig ditches to prepare the way for God to bless them.
Chris uses the ESV which says God performs the act of filling pools, whereas Vickie uses the NKJV which has God, through the prophet Elisha, telling the people to dig ditches that will subsequently be filled. Read it for yourself…
2 Kings 3:15-18 Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.
‘Make this valley full of ditches’. So – dig holes to make space for water, which brings blessing to the nation in the midst of difficult times. Follow God’s instructions and He will win the day.
Vickie also mentions in passing that she likes what the Message says here, which is: ‘Dig ditches all over this valley.’ Chris interrupts the message to utter his disgust at the Message version and decry people who even possess one let alone read from it.
Despite the Message being a paraphrase that should only be used as a study help, and not take the place of actual translations, this is a fairly accurate rendition in accord with most versions. ‘Dig ditches all over this valley’ seems awfully similar to ‘make this valley full of ditches’.
I always use the Greens Literal Translation as an arbitrator in these situations because it is one of the most reliable. What does it say, then?
‘So says Jehovah, Make this valley full of ditches.’
OK, that’s good enough for me. Plus the NKJV, KJV, AKJV, LITV, YLT, NASB, HSCB, DARBY, ASV, WBT, ERV, D-RB, DBT, CJB, WEB, NLV, NCV, NABRE, MEV, ISV, GNT, etc, all have a similar translation. That’s more than twenty versions agreeing with Vickie’s use of scripture.
You can run with the more Reformed versions like the ESV or NIV if you like, but Vickie was spot on with this according to the majority of translations of this passage.
Matthew Henry also seems to agree with Vickie Simpson in his commentary on this section of scripture.
‘To try their faith and obedience, Elisha bids them make the valley full of pits to receive water. Those who expect God’s blessings, must dig pools for the rain to fill, as in the valley of Baca, and thus make even that a well.’
As does the Benson Commentary:
‘Which may receive the water and retain it, for the use of men and beasts. They that expect God’s blessings, must prepare room for them.’
That is exactly what Vickie was teaching.
The thrust of it is that we have to sometimes unclutter our lives to make time to study the Word, hear from the Spirit, and be refreshed by God in His presence. We can become caught up in the world’s ways and neglect time spent with the Lord.
Inability to listen to the message
Chris, however, was extremely dismissive, and in an ungodly manner. It was unpleasant to have to listen to his sniping.
Maybe he needs to leave off his carnality at the microphone for a while and dig a ditch of his own to catch the living water of the Spirit in his life.
Perhaps he needs to unclutter himself from his hyper-critical attitude and make space for God to flood his heart and bring the change he needs to be wiser and kinder with his analysis.
It’s amazing to think that someone like Vickie Simpson was actually preaching a message that could have helped Chris deal with his cynical attitude towards ministers of God when all the time he was only interested in tearing down the messenger.
Chris may feel that he is only critiquing theology, but, in fact, much of what takes place is unnecessarily dismissive and condescending of the person. According to scripture, we wrestle not against flesh and blood.
The rest of the message continued in similar fashion, and it was very difficult to pick up the thread of what Vickie was saying with Chris’ constant interruptions, most of which were unedifying groans, moans, punctuated with unhelpful, under-the-breath barbs.
All it did was outline Chris’ seeming ignorance of how to hear, analyse, define and discern a message, and, therefore, how to accurately and fairly critique theology. I’m sorry, but this was amateur hour. How do people listen to this stuff day after day? I had to stop the jibes around two-thirds through it was so painful. Enough is enough.
Lessons for the discerners
There were a few points made in the Discerning Discerners session of interest, though.
I agree with Chris that discerners should never compose articles based on what he called guilt by association. Maybe he should write to the chookwatchers, who use this device for the majority of their articles. They are past-masters.
He also said critics should apologise when they are shown to have got things wrong in their articles. He might want to apply that one to himself as well as the chookwatchers, who have been caught out many times but never apologised to those they have falsely accused.
However, the main problem that is surfacing is the pirate crew’s limitation of the Body of the Christ. Their cessationist theology diminishes the role of the Holy Spirit and their stance on women stifles the Body by taking out more than half of those who are set into it by God, based on their willingness to isolate verses from the rest of the canon, leading to a lack of understanding and subsequent misrepresentation of scripture.
God is no respecter of persons
According to scripture, every believer has a part to play. None is greater than another. We are all called. We are all set in the Body. We all have a role, a function, gifts, talents, abilities, ministries and, for some, offices. We are all anointed. We all have the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us and teach us. We all have the same Word of God to instruct, rebuke, correct, and develop us. We are all members of the Church.
God doesn’t prefer one person over another. He is with, in, and upon all believers, regardless of their ethnicity or gender. Whilst we have different roles, male and female are not separate exclusive segregated clubs within the Body. We are all one in Him.
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
And there is this admonition for everyone…
Romans 12:3-5 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Think soberly – to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self. As God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. We are one Body in Christ. We are individually members of one another.
We have different functions in the Body of Christ. We need to support and uphold one another in faith, provoking one another to love and good works, not squabbling and tearing one another apart
Is discernment a gift of the Spirit?
Finally, for this piece, Chris declared that discernment is a gift of the Spirit to nods of approval from the crew, one of whom later said the gift is not internal but of discerning in the Word, which gained the same amount of nods.
In fact, the manifestation of the Spirit outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 is the gift of discerning of spirits.
It is the divine ability by the leading of the Holy Spirit to determine whether a person is being influenced by demonic spirits, or if there are angelic spirits present. It comes as the Spirit leads, which may or may not mean it is an internal leading, or a perception.
For instance, in the Book of Acts, Paul perceived that a girl had a spirit of divination, and was led to cast the demon out of her.
Acts 16:18 Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
Grieved – diaphonio – inwardly troubled, intensely pained. Paul, being led by the Spirit, discerns that she has a spirit of divination and acts accordingly.
Discerning the Word is a completely different operation. It is also in conjunction with the Spirit, but it is not the same as the manifestation of the Spirit, which is discernment of spirits. We cannot just conjure the manifestation up at will. It is as He wills. But we can discern good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
‘By reason of use’, so by absorbing and engaging in the Word of God, so we can and should discern whether scripture, theology or doctrine is accurate. This comes because we spend time in the Word, under good teaching and training, and check everything we hear and read against the Word of God before accepting it for ourselves.
This is more than mere word-play. This is doctrine. If the pirates seek to discern truth, they need, at least, to understand the difference between the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit and the ability to discern through sound doctrine and practice.